UNDER M.V.C. RULES.
Punch, October 8, 1902
[“A new game called Vigoro has been invented, which combines the characteristics of cricket and lawn-tennis. A trial match has been arranged at Lord’s, in which many county players are to take part, and Lord Hawke has announced his intention of introducing it into New Zealand during his forthcoming tour. It can be played all the year round, and, as the ball used is of soft india-rubber, equally well by both sexes. Batsmen, bowlers, and fieldsmen are all armed with racquets.”—Daily Paper.]
From the “Sporting Man” of Dec. 5, 1910.
. . . .“And so ended the first of the five Test matches. We hold no brief for England, but we feel that it cannot be denied that the better side won. Except for an hour on the first day, when Miss Smith and Miss Robinson were at the wickets, the New Zealanders were completely outplayed. And this, in spite of the fact that the luck went dead against the home team from the outset, for with MacLaren unable to turn out, and Miss Jones suffering from acute neuralgia, England was by no means at its full strength. Again, during the majority of the three days snow fell heavily, and it is common knowledge that Lockwood is never at his best on a snowy wicket. Indeed, we seriously question the wisdom of the selection committee in playing him. On his day, it is true, Lockwood is the finest bowler in England. The peculiar twist of his racquet which invariably precedes an off-break is a secret which he shares with no other fast bowler. But since it was obvious from the outset that there would be snow, we think the committee should have given the place to Miss Brown, who rarely fails to do well on any wicket, and is known to have a partiality for the Lord’s ground. However, England won. That is the main point, and a victory so decisive will be the most fitting answer to the pessimistic letters which have appeared repeatedly of late in the columns of the Press. Our players may have their off-seasons, but, in view of this victory, it cannot be said with any semblance of reason that English Vigoro is degenerating. The first of the Test-matches has added immensely to the prestige of English Vigoro.
In fielding we still have much to learn from our visitors. The performance of the New Zealanders in England’s first innings, and indeed throughout the match, was a treat to behold. Anything finer than the catch by which Miss Slogginson dismissed Gilbert Jessop it has never been our lot to witness. At first sight the hit appeared perfectly safe. The ball had all the well-known force of Mr. Jessop’s racquet behind it, and, as so often happens with soft india-rubber balls, was swerving nastily. Miss Slogginson, however, though fully thirty yards away, and up to her waist in a deep drift, nevertheless contrived to extricate herself and arrest the ball on her racquet just as it was about to clear the ropes. A wonderful effort, which brought down the house, together with a small avalanche from the roof of the pavilion.
Hirst and Rhodes both appeared a little stale. Playing since January without a break has had its effect on the two Yorkshire cracks, though their deliveries never looked easy. By a curious coincidence each secured his thousandth wicket this season in his first over.
In conclusion we have to thank the committee of the M.V.C. and Ground for their treatment of the Press representatives. The new stoves in the Press Box are an excellent innovation. We wish we could express equal praise for certain of the other arrangements in force at Lord’s. The growing habit of stopping the game at five o’clock for a hot potatoes interval is the curse of modern Vigoro. It annoys the spectators, and is quite unnecessary.
Unsigned article as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 123 of Punch.
P.G.W. mentions Jessop a few times in early stories, notably in his second article for Punch, a farcical piece called “Under M.V.C. Rules” in October, two months after he’d seen Jessop play. That year, a fad sport named Vigoro had been getting some publicity. Invented by a fellow named J. G. Grant, of Montreal, it could be roughly described as cricket played with tennis rackets. M.V.C. is a play on M.C.C. — the Marylebone Cricket Club, one of the oldest and most revered in Britain.